The animal rights organisation Gaia intends to take legal action against Zakia Khattabi, the president of green party Ecolo, for defamation. At issue is a statement made by Khattabi (photo) in an interview this week with the business daily L’Echo, in which she claimed Gaia had called for people to vote for Vlaams Belang.
“We are stunned,” said Gaia president Michel Vandenbosch in a statement. “Gaia has never called on people to vote for Vlaams Belang. We have absolutely no connection with that party or with the extreme right. Xenophobia is simply not in Gaia’s DNA. And we cannot accept that Ecolo sullies our image with libellous and insulting statements.”
Khattabi has refused to apologise, and points to a Facebook post from last October, just before the municipal elections, where Gaia lists those parties who are in favour of a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals – slaughter without the animal being first stunned. Among those parties listed as being in favour of a ban – and receiving a tick in a box like a ballot paper – is Vlaams Belang.
At the time, Khattabi posted a response on Facebook. “Many of you have addressed us on the subject of the odious campaign by Gaia,” she wrote. “Aside from the lies about the response we gave them, we note that Gaia calls for a vote for Vlaams Belang rather than for democratic parties. If someone’s mask has slipped, it is theirs. The ends certainly do not justify the means!”
And today, Khattabi is sticking to her position. “I’m still shocked that you could put Vlaams Belang on the same footing as other democratic parties,” she told La Libre this week.